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11 Continuously Inhabited Oldest Cities In The World

Posted on Friday, 7 February 2014



Ever since man learned to grow their own food and rear cattle, they have been living in permanent to semi-permanent settlements with certain degree of planning. Although opinions vary on whether any particular ancient settlement can be considered to be a city, there is no doubt that towns and cities have a long history.

The earliest civilizations in history were established in the region known as Mesopotamia, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran. Archaeological remains unearthed in Mesopotamia provides proof of settlements dating back to 10,000 BC. After Mesopotamia, the city culture arose in Syria and Anatolia, as shown by the city of Çatalhöyük (7500-5700BC). Mohenjodaro of the Indus Valley Civilization in present-day Pakistan existed from about 2600 BC and was one of the largest ancient cites with a population of 50,000 or more.

While it might not be too difficult to determine which is the oldest city in the world, there is fierce contention for the title of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Often the age claims are disputed and historical evidences are difficult to prove. Then there are differences in opinion as to the definitions of "city" as well as "continuously inhabited". In any case, the following cities besides being some of the ancient in the world, they continue to grow and thrive until the present day.

01. Jericho, Israel
Continuously Inhabited Since: 9000 BC

Jericho is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories, capital of the Jericho Governorate and with a modest population of around 20,000. Situated well below sea level Jericho is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.

Described in the Old Testament as the "City of Palm Trees", copious springs in and around Jericho have made it an attractive site for human habitation for thousands of years. Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BCE), almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth's history.

During the Younger Dryas period of cold and drought, permanent habitation of any one location was not possible. However, the spring at what would become Jericho was a popular camping ground for hunter-gatherer groups, who left a scattering stone tools behind them. Around 9600 BCE the droughts and cold of the Younger Dryas Stadial had come to an end, making it possible for groups to extend the duration of their stay, eventually leading to year round habitation and permanent settlement. By about 9400 BCE Jericho had more than 70 dwellings, and was home to over 1000 people. 10 more cities after the break...
02. Damascus, Syria
Continuously Inhabited Since: 6300 BC

Damascus is the capital and the second largest city of Syria. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major cultural and religious center of the Levant.

Damascus is often claimed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, and evidence exists of a settlement in the wider Barada basin dating back to 9000 BC. However within the area of Damascus there is no evidence for large-scale settlement until the second millennium BC. Carbon-14 dating at Tell Ramad, on the outskirts of Damascus, suggests that the site may have been occupied since the second half of the seventh millennium BC, possibly around 6300 BC.

03. Byblos, Lebanon
Continuously Inhabited Since: 5000 BC 

Byblos is a Mediterranean city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of present-day Lebanon. It is believed to have been founded around 5000 BC, and according to fragments attributed to the semi-legendary pre-Trojan war Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon, it was built by Cronus as the first city in Phoenicia.

Byblos is located on the Mediterranean coast of present-day Lebanon, about 26 miles (42 kilometers) north of Beirut. It is attractive to archaeologists because of the successive layers of debris resulting from centuries of human habitation. The first settlement appeared approximately 6230 BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, the first signs of a town can be observed, with the remains of well-built houses of uniform size. 

04. Aleppo, Syria
Continuously Inhabited Since: 5000 BC

Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. Aleppo has scarcely been touched by archaeologists, since the modern city occupies its ancient site. Therefore, its hard to put a precise date on how old the city is it. Excavations at Tell as-Sawda and Tell al-Ansari, just south of the old city of Aleppo, show that the area was occupied from around 5000 BC.

The citys continuous inhabitation is due to its strategic trading position that attracted settlers of all races and beliefs who wished to take advantage of the commercial roads that met in Aleppo from as far as China and Mesopotamia to the east, Europe to the west, and the Fertile Crescent and Egypt to the south. Today, with an official population of 2,132,100 (2004 census), it is one of the largest cities in the Levant.

05. Athens, Greece
Continuously Inhabited Since: 5000 BC

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state - a centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum. It is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent.

The oldest known human presence in Athens is the Cave of Schist, which has been dated to between the 11th and 7th millennium BC. Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years. During the early Middle Ages, the city experienced a decline, then recovere
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